Match Recap: Men vs. Hudson Valley

Written by Michael Lewis

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – The Long Island Rough Riders finished their USL League Two regular season with a 3-1 triumph over NJ Copa FC at Mitchel Athletic Complex on Sunday night.

Nick Dang scored in the first half and Barry Sharifi and Justin Weiss added second-half goals.

The squad completed the regular season with a sterling 12-1-1 mark, winning the Metropolitan Division crown and earning the right to host the Eastern Conference playoffs next weekend. NJ Copa finished its season at 8-4-2.

The Rough Riders were on the front foot from the opening kickoff, peppering several shots at goalkeeper Justin Gemellaro.

Dang lifted Long Island into the lead in the sixth minute as he headed home Frederik Jorgensen’s 28-yard free kick past Gemellaro from six yards.

Weiss came close to doubling the margin in the 17th minute after Long Island obtained possession after a steal in the attacking area. Ryan Carmichael fed White, who powered a shot from top the box just wide left of the net.

The hosts continued to attack and turn interceptions into quick counterattacks. Gemellaro denied Sharifi twice, in the 19th and 22 minutes, to keep FC Copa within striking distance.

On a 23-yard free kick in the 42nd minute, Jorgensen to put his attempt on target and he came very close, hitting the top of the crossbar.

NJ Copa’s forays into the Rough Riders defensive half were few and far between in the opening 45 minutes. Israel Garcia Perez tried to test Wessel Speel from distance, but the goalkeeper handled the FC Copa’s player one-bounce shot without a problem in the 44th minute.

Needing a goal to equalize, NJ Copa pushed forward early in the second half, but Long Island made sure Speel did not have to make any saves.

The Rough Riders regained momentum and entered attacking mode themselves, trying for an insurance goal to justify their domination of the match.

Gemellaro continued to be a thorn in LI’s side in the final half. He frustrated an onrushing Carmichael in the 65th minute before proving to be mortal several minutes later.

Sharifi’s hard work paid off as he slotted the ball past Gemellaro into the lower right corner for a 2-0 advantage and some well-deserved breathing room in the 72nd minute.

In a rare event in the 77th minute, both keepers made saves less than 60 seconds apart. Gemellaro denied Sharifi’s attempt for a brace from 10 yards before Speel gathered in Albert Portas’ shot from the right side.

The visitors took advantage of some sloppy passing by the Rough Riders in the back as they forced a turnover and substitute Andrew Armstrong turned it into a goal, scoring from the top of the penalty area, in the 82nd minute to slice the lead to 2-1.

Weiss sent a dangerous, curling shot that Gemellaro managed to punch out of harm’s way in the 88th minute. However, Gemellaro could not deny Weiss in the 90th minute as he powered a strike just inside the near post on the left side for the final goal of the encounter.

The Rough Riders’ season is far from over. They will host the Eastern Conference bracket of the USL League Two playoffs, with a doubleheader on Friday, July 21 at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. and then a single contest on Sunday, July 23 at 2 p.m.

Fans can get the latest news and information about the playoffs on the Riders’ website or follow the team’s social media (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) to learn about the latest developments for next weekend’s matches and how to purchase tickets for the games.


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